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TravelHotel review: What it’s like to stay at the Banyan Tree Phuket

Hotel review: What it’s like to stay at the Banyan Tree Phuket

Banyan Tree Phuket provided a complimentary stay so that TPG could get an inside look at the hotel and its amenities. The opinions expressed below are entirely those of the author and weren’t subject to review by the hotel or any external entity.

One of the best-known luxury resorts in Phuket, Thailand, is also one of its most established.

Banyan Tree Phuket, the first property in the Banyan Tree chain of hotels and resorts, first opened on the site of a former tin mine in 1994. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find yourself checking in to a sprawling resort where private pool villas are the norm and staff members go above and beyond to provide authentic, local experiences to guests arriving from around the world.

Here’s what it’s like to stay at Banyan Tree Phuket.


What it’s like at Banyan Tree Phuket

Banyan Tree Phuket is a 30-minute drive from Phuket International Airport (HKT) and might seem like a golf-oriented resort based on the drive up to the hotel through the Laguna Golf community. But the resort and its numerous villas stretch from the golf course through a lagoon network near the Andaman Sea (accessible via the neighboring Laguna Beach, which is a short bike ride or 10-minute walk from the resort).

Many public spaces are open-air, and upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a team member who will guide you to the check-in area within a broader lobby area that includes a large water feature, a bar and Banyan Tree’s signature upscale restaurant, Saffron.

Checking in

My check-in process included pleasant touches like chilled herbal tea and cold towels to tackle the Phuket humidity, and a team member escorted me in a buggy to my Pool Villa while a different team member handled luggage delivery. The large property has accommodated several expansions and renovations since the resort opened 30 years ago, so it’s worth borrowing bikes (provided complimentary at a stand near the Banyan Tree Spa) to get around efficiently.


How much Banyan Tree Phuket costs and how to book

While my stay was complimentary, rates for a Pool Villa (the entry-level accommodation) start at $340 per night in off-peak months before rising to around $500 per night in the peak winter months. You’ll want to book well in advance if you’re thinking of visiting for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, as this is the busiest time of year for resorts across Phuket.

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For added elitelike benefits, you can book directly with Banyan Tree or via platforms like Skylark and American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts, which is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express. By using your Amex Platinum on FHR, you can earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings or use points for all or part of your stay.


Rooms at Banyan Tree

Pool Villas are the norm at Banyan Tree Phuket, and there are even DoublePool Villas in a more secluded section toward the back of the resort. My Pool Villa had the perfect amount of space for two people to stretch out and not be in each other’s way.

The king-size bed overlooked the patio and pool area from a spacious bedroom with a seating area and a wet bar. The bathroom featured a walk-in shower, dressing room and ample storage for luggage. Various shades of green and cream with light wood dominated the color scheme.


The decor and design signaled that the hotel is trying to appeal to a wide array of tastes: Peaked roofs and murals over the bed leaned into a Thai aesthetic, while the back patio and private pool felt like they could belong anywhere — that’s not necessarily a bad thing but something to consider if you’re looking for any particular aesthetic.


Housekeeping, including nightly turndown service, is offered two times a day, and service is fast. As jet lag was setting in, I regularly requested additional coffee pods for the in-room espresso machine. New pods arrived within minutes each time I called. On the amenity front, you could find the usual luxury offerings of bath robes, vanity kits and slippers, while Banyan Tree-branded bath products, which incorporate argan and camellia oleifera seed oils, are used in the bathroom.

What we ate at Banyan Tree Phuket

There are some dining standouts at Banyan Tree Phuket, particularly regarding Thai cuisine and unique experiences.

Banyan Tree’s high-end, open-air Thai restaurant, Saffron, overlooked a lagoon and had a romantic vibe thanks to the nightly live music performances taking place in the adjoining lounge. Mieng moo hong, or Phuketian stewed pork belly in betel leaves (470 baht, or $13), was a delicious start before main courses of khao pad saffron, a wok-tossed saffron dish with seafood and vegetables (600 baht, or $16), and shrimp pad Thai with mango (780 baht, or $21).


Not that we needed the carbs, but a fun amenity at Saffron was the rice cart, which was wheeled around to offer diners four types of grains. Like I said, we didn’t need the carbs, but the blue-hued butterfly pea was delicious. (OK, fine: I had the cart return for seconds.)

Veya, Banyan Tree’s wellness-oriented restaurant, overlooks a quieter stretch of the pool in an open-air perch near the Banyan Tree Spa. The self-anointed “Mediterr-Asian” restaurant was as delicious as it was healthy. Kingfish ceviche (520 baht, or $14) and steamed prawn dumplings with spicy tamarind sauce (395 baht, or $11) were light starters worth returning to Veya for a second visit later in our trip.

Veya’s menu included other highlights like cauliflower steak grilled in turmeric and served with hummus and chimichurri (450 baht, or $12) and vegan nachos (360 baht, or $10). Yes, nachos are still highly enjoyable sans tortilla chips and beef chili!

Tin Tapas Bar, a floating cocktail bar on the lagoon, is a great spot to enjoy evening cocktails, while Tre near the DoublePool Villas was my preferred locale to enjoy a quieter breakfast. The Watercourt is the main spot for breakfast at Banyan Tree Phuket and is significantly busier in the morning than Tre.

The Banyan Tree Phuket team can also arrange a private dinner cruise through the network of lagoons surrounding the property. It’s a great way to watch the sunset and explore the surrounding properties while enjoying several courses of customizable cuisine (high marks for the grilled lobster and calamari during our cruise). Private dinner cruises start at 18,990 baht ($511) for a group of four.

Experiences at Banyan Tree Phuket

I honeymooned several years ago at a Banyan Tree resort in Vietnam, and that property stuck with me for offering great local experiences like bike rides through nearby fishing villages and tours of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hue. It appears that is a Banyan Tree brand standard.

Banyan Tree Phuket offers Thai cooking classes where you begin by selecting fresh herbs and vegetables from the on-site Veya Pharm before then taking the ingredients back to enjoy a cooking class at the Banyan Tree cooking studio (rates start at 3,800 baht, or $102 per person). During my abbreviated raw cooking class, we learned to make shredded pumpkin, carrot and tempeh salad with a spicy lime vinaigrette.

Elsewhere, you can enjoy spa workshops where you learn to make your own massage oils and herbal inhalers. It’s part of the broader Banyan Tree Spa hub where all Banyan Tree Spa employees worldwide come to train before returning to their home resort — so it’s well worth getting a massage, too.


The resort also offers more laid-back, meditative experiences as well. Banyan Tree’s Lotus Labyrinth near Laguna Lake enables guests to have a peaceful, contemplative start to their day while walking toward the center of the labyrinth — It certainly made me feel de-stressed from all the travel of getting to Phuket.


Amenities and things to do

Banyan Tree Phuket offers a wide range of additional amenities and activities to fill up your itinerary and make your trip a little more relaxing:

  • Many outdoor activities, from tennis at the on-property courts to 18 holes at the golf course, as well as kayaking on the lagoon
  • A spacious gym with a robust mix of strength and cardio equipment
  • Concierge service to arrange local experiences, like visiting a rubber plantation or nearby markets
  • Extensive wellness and spa offerings
  • Cooking classes
  • Bicycle use
  • Private dinner cruises throughout the lagoon network
  • Accessibility: Most of the property is wheelchair accessible, but the property is spread out and hilly at times. Buggy service is the best way to move around between public spaces and villas. There are villas configured for wheelchair accessibility, but contact Banyan Tree Phuket directly to ensure you can reserve a room that meets your requirements.

Insider tips for staying at Banyan Tree Phuket

Here are a few additional tips and things to know before planning your visit to Banyan Tree Phuket:

  • While the resort never felt crowded, restaurants filled up quickly. Make reservations ahead of time.
  • Watercourt has an extensive breakfast buffet, but book a table at Tre for a quieter start to your day away from the hustle and bustle.
  • Splurge on a DoublePool Villa for more space if you’re traveling in a larger group or want a little more seclusion.
  • All spa workers in the Banyan Tree network come to Banyan Tree Phuket to train, so consider pampering yourself with a treatment or two to see what sets the standard for the rest of the brand.

Bottom line

Banyan Tree Phuket is a great way to immerse yourself in Thai experiences and culture with a team ready to go above and beyond to make your stay one of a kind. An added bonus: The resort offers good value compared to some of the competing luxury resorts in the area, especially considering the robust spa and dining offerings at Banyan Tree Phuket.


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